LONDON - “What is an Insider? An Insider is to the body what memory is to consciousness: a kind of residue, something that is left behind. It is a core rather than a skeleton. It is a way of allowing things that are internal to the body – attitudes and emotions embedded in posture or hidden by gesture – to become revealed. They are equally alien and intimate.” – Antony Gormley
Insider VII by British sculptor Antony Gormley is one of the major highlights of the sculpture selection in the Contemporary Art Day auction on 11 February and a fantastic example of Gormley’s Insider series, which he began in 1997.
Gormley, who is arguably the most important British sculptor alive, has created a sculpture that is at once imbued with fragility and gravitas, but also evokes an impression of strength and durability in time and space. Stripped bare of its flesh, Insider VII demonstrates not only a sensation of meticulous reduction to the essence of the body, but also acts as a metaphor for the strength and endurance of human life.
Conceived in iron, Insider VII is inextricably linked to the substance of the human environment. Gormley explains: “I see these reduced forms as antennae for a particular kind of resilience that exists within all of us, that allows us to bear suffering but is itself created through painful experience. There is no judgment about this. Their bareness is not the nakedness that reveals the flesh; it is the result of having had the flesh taken away, a loss which is not sentimentalized but accepted. The Insider tries to up the ante between being and nothingness”. It is this shared history of pain and perseverance that grants Gormley’s sculpture a symbolic power, elevating Insider VII from being an individual to a representative of mankind.
Boris Cornelissen is a specialist in the Contemporary Art department, Sotheby’s London.